This ‘The Official History of the Wallabies Jersey’ Book has been signed by the author, Michael Fahey
Creating A Valuable Official Historical Archive For Australian Rugby
Australia has played test rugby since 1899 and in those 123 seasons some 34 distinct and different jerseys have been wore by the Wallabies. The golden jersey that took on many hues was first worn 50 years ago but before then the Wallabies wore numerous colours – sky blue, maroon, sky-blue & maroon, green, white with G&G, Gold with green, and plain white.
When you add in variations for new sponsors, changes in coats of arms, commemorations, and Rugby World cups there have been 74 variations.
This official history firstly looks to illustrate all the jerseys worn and showcase photographically the most important 50 plus match-worn designs and along the way tell the story of some of the famous players that worn those particular jerseys. Most are well known some legends of our game, but a sprinkling were Wallabies who were either selected or solely played tour games and did not having test career for various reasons – but Wallabies all.
The jerseys and their colours tell the story of the forces that shaped Australian rugby as well the men who wore them.
It should be noted that the separate colonies came together, to form a combined or Australian team, in both cricket and Rugby Union before Australia as a country was proclaimed in 1901.
The circumstances surrounding the growth of rugby and the peculiarities in its administration also shaped the colours and symbols. Rugby in Australia and the formation of a national governing body was vastly different to that in other major rugby countries.
It is with this background of just two competing colonies and no national body that jersey colours were selected, and one of the reasons Australia had many varied colours and designs in the first 40 years of Australian Test rugby.
The Wallabies jersey has been debated in committee meeting and reported in the minutes, featured in letters to the Editor and been the subject of countless newspaper articles. The jersey has been a treasured item to swap with an opponent or gift to someone influential, or important. It has become a billboard and the marketing of supporter’s jerseys now a vital source of income. The technology of the jersey has changed from wool, then cotton to space-age material but it is still the pinnacle of achievement for Australian rugby players. Many express their pride in wearing the jersey and talk of the ceremonies or lack of them upon receiving the jersey.
In 2021 Rugby Australia decided to pick the definitive Wallabies jersey colour and have that as the ongoing permanent symbol. The list and history of the jerseys were presented to the panels and helped formulate that decision.